Bill Graveland / The Canadian Press – 2007-11-17 22:40:44
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (November 17, 2007) — Two months of relative calm came to an explosive and tragic end Saturday on a narrow road in the volatile Zhari district of southern Afghanistan, with the deaths of two Canadian soldiers and injuries to three more. Their light armoured vehicle, or LAV, hit a roadside bomb about 40 kilometres west of Kandahar city just after midnight Saturday.
Killed were Cpl. Nicholas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, Que., and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, of Riviere-Rouge, Que., who was with the Royal 22nd Regiment.
Three other soldiers in the vehicle were injured and flown to hospital at Kandahar Air Field where they are listed in stable condition. An Afghan interpreter also died in the blast.
“This is an extremely difficult and emotional time for the families, friends and colleagues of those who have lost their lives or have been injured today,” said Col. Christian Juneau, the deputy commander of the Canadian Task Force in Afghanistan.
“The presence of every single soldier here contributes to building a better future for the people of Afghanistan. I can only hope that this thought will be of some comfort to those who are grieving today.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement Saturday, extending condolences to the families and friends of the two soldiers killed, and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.
“These are all exceptional Canadians who deserve the gratitude and respect of this nation,” Harper said.
“The actions of these brave soldiers have brought hope to the Afghan people.”
Harper also expressed sympathy to the family of the Afghan interpreter.
“We are making a difference in Afghanistan and the government of Canada stands proudly with our Canadian Forces members as they strive to protect Canadians, our interests and our values,” Harper’s statement said.
The Zhari and Panjwaii districts have been a hotbed of Taliban activity for years and most of Canada’s military resources are committed to the region. A favourite tactic of the Taliban is the use of Improvised Explosive Devices, known as IEDs, or landmines. Recently they have been increasing the size of the explosive devices, often placing one on top of the other. That would explain how so much damage could be done to a LAV which is a favourite of the Canadian forces.
Juneau said the troops were involved in a “targeted security operation” aimed at increasing security and stability in the region in support of Afghan security forces.
Tactics such as this, said Juneau, show how bad things have become for the Taliban.
“The area is pretty active in terms of insurgent activity,” Juneau said. “You have to understand the insurgents are desperate for a spectacular event or a spectacular victory that would help them finish the fighting season on a high note. They haven’t been very successful this season so far.”
Despite several skirmishes and plenty of activity, the two deaths Saturday are the first since Sept. 24.
On that day Cpl. Nathan Hornburg became the 71st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan.
The 24-year-old armoured crewman with the King’s Own Calgary Regiment was killed during a counter-insurgency operation in one of the most dangerous districts in Afghanistan.
The Roll Call
Since 2002, 73 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan. Here is a list of the deaths:
• Nov. 17 — Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier and Pte. Michel Levesque of the Royal 22nd Regiment, killed when their light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Bazar-e Panjwaii.
• Sept. 24 — Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, 24, with the King’s Own Calgary regiment, killed by a mortar shell while trying to repair a Leopard tank in southern Afghanistan.
• Aug. 29 — Maj. Raymond Ruckpaul dies from gunshot inside a secure NATO compound in Kabul.
• Aug. 22 — Master Warrant Officier Mario Mercier and Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne killed by roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.
• Aug. 19 — Pte. Simon Longtin killed by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.
• July 4 — Cpl. Cole Bartsch, Capt. Matthew Johnathan Dawe, Pte. Lane Watkins, Cpl. Jordan Anderson, Master Cpl. Colin Bason and Capt. Jefferson Francis, killed by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.
• June 20 — Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane and Pte. Joel Vincent Wiebe, killed by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city.
• June 11 — Trooper Darryl Caswell killed a roadside bomb north of Kandahar.
• May 30 — Master Cpl. Darrell Jason Priede, killed when a U.S. helicopter was reportedly shot down by the Taliban in Helmand province.
• May 25 — Cpl. Matthew McCully killed by an improvised explosive device in Zhari district.
• April 18 — Master Cpl. Anthony Klumpenhouwer, who served with elite special forces, died after falling from a communications tower while on duty conducting surveillance in Kandahar city.
• April 11 — Master Cpl. Allan Stewart and Trooper Patrick James Pentland, killed when their Coyote vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
• April 8 — Sgt. Donald Lucas, Cpl. Aaron E. Williams, Pte. Kevin V. Kennedy, Pte. David R. Greenslade, Cpl. Christopher P. Stannix and Cpl. Brent Poland killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
• March 6 — Cpl. Kevin Megeney killed in accidental shooting at NATO base in Kandahar.
• Nov. 27 — Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Girouard and Cpl. Albert Storm killed by suicide car bomber.
• Oct. 14 — Sgt. Darcy Tedford and Pte. Blake Williamson killed in ambush.
• Oct. 7 — Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson killed by roadside bomb.
• Oct. 3 — Sgt. Craig Gillam and Cpl. Robert Mitchell killed in series of mortar, rocket attacks.
• Sept. 29 — Pte. Josh Klukie killed by explosion in Panjwaii while on foot patrol.
• Sept. 18 — Pte. David Byers, Cpl. Shane Keating, Cpl. Keith Morley and Cpl. Glen Arnold killed in suicide bicycle bomb attack while on foot patrol in Panjwaii.
• Sept. 4 — Pte. Mark Graham killed when two NATO planes accidentally strafed Canadian troops in Panjwaii district.
• Sept. 3 — Sgt. Shane Stachnik, Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, Pte. William Cushley and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan killed in fighting in Panjwaii district.
• Aug. 22 — Cpl. David Braun killed in suicide attack.
• Aug. 11 — Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom killed in suicide attack.
• Aug. 9 — Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh killed by apparent accidental discharge of rifle.
• Aug. 5 — Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt killed when his G-Wagon patrol vehicle collided with truck.
• Aug. 3 — Cpl. Christopher Reid killed by roadside bomb. Sgt. Vaughan Ingram, Cpl. Bryce Keller and Pte. Kevin Dallaire killed in rocket-propelled grenade attack.
• July 22 — Cpl. Francisco Gomez and Cpl. Jason Warren killed when car packed with explosives rammed their armoured vehicle.
• July 9 — Cpl. Anthony Boneca killed in firefight.
• May 17 — Capt. Nichola Goddard killed in Taliban ambush. She was first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in combat role.
• April 22 — Cpl. Matthew Dinning, Bombardier Myles Mansell, Lt. William Turner and Cpl. Randy Payne killed when their G-Wagon destroyed by roadside bomb.
• March 29 — Pte. Robert Costall killed in firefight with Taliban.
• March 2 — Cpl. Paul Davis and Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson killed when their armoured vehicle ran off road.
• Jan. 15 — Glyn Berry, British-born Canadian diplomat, killed in suicide bombing.
• Nov. 24 — Pte. Braun Woodfield killed when his armoured vehicle rolled over.
• Jan. 27 — Cpl. Jamie Murphy killed in suicide bombing while on patrol.
• Oct. 2 — Sgt. Robert Short and Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger killed in roadside bombing.
• April 17 — Sgt. Marc Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green and Pte. Nathan Smith killed when U.S. F-16 fighter mistakenly bombed Canadians.
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